Important Benefits of Coffee to Improve Your General Health and Energy Levels

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD


Too much to get the benefits from coffee?If you enjoy your morning coffee, there’s no real reason you should have to stop drinking it. While coffee has taken a bit of a beating in the media lately—a number of studies have highlighted the negative effects of coffee—drinking coffee can have some positive effects too. In fact, as long as you keep your intake low, you can enjoy the many benefits of coffee in addition to its great taste. Some of these could improve your long-term health and wellness or even relieve health problems you’ve been struggling with for years.

The Problem with Drinking Coffee

The real problem with coffee is if you are drinking excess amounts, which can negatively affect your health. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to tell if you’re drinking too much. If you get your coffee at a local café, you may think you’re only drinking 2–3 cups a day. But the average size of a cup of coffee in a typical American coffee shop is about 16 oz. Depending on the type of coffee, this can sometimes equate to 330 mg of caffeine—which is extremely close to the safe daily limit of 400 mg. So, if you have two coffees a day, you’re almost doubling the safe amount of caffeine intake from just a single source.

You may also be taking in more caffeine than you realize. Varying quantities of caffeine can be found in pain relievers, chocolate, soda, sports drinks, and tea. So, if you consume any of these substances in addition to your daily coffee, it’s easy to exceed over the recommended safe limit. By doing so, you could be reducing or eliminating the benefits of coffee you would have otherwise enjoyed. Also important to note is that you may not drink your coffee black but instead add loads of sugar and dairy to make it taste better. When you add sweeteners or creamers to your coffee, you might not reap the full benefits of coffee since these added ingredients can reduce the activity of beneficial coffee compounds.

The Consequences of Overindulgence

If you overindulge in coffee on a regular basis by drinking more than the safe limit, you might start to suffer from health problems. Here are some of the potential health issues associated with caffeine:

  • Reduced calcium and iron absorption;
  • Increased anxiety and heart rate;
  • Worsening IBS symptoms;
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD);
  • Increased blood glucose levels – If you have type 2 diabetes, you should avoid coffee completely;
  • Insomnia or interrupted sleeping patterns;
  • Headaches;
  • Fertility issues.

General Health Benefits from Coffee

Coffee doesn’t always have to be dangerous and damaging to your health. In fact, research suggests there are a number of benefits that come with drinking the black stuff. If you’re looking for a way to justify your intake, here are some important benefits of coffee you should know about:

Helps your body fight disease

There is some evidence that coffee can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers including colon, liver, prostate, ovarian, and oral cancers. It may also help protect your eyes from retinal degeneration, a condition commonly associated with diabetes and glaucoma. And if that wasn’t enough, coffee can also protect you against the cognitive decline that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease and has been linked to decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

May improve mental health

Drinking coffee could help to boost your mental acuity and general emotional health. By acting as a mild antidepressant and boosting neurotransmitter levels, it can decrease your risk of suicide by up to 50 percent. This is one of the more unexpected but highly valuable benefits of coffee.

May boost your metabolic rate

Coffee can increase your metabolism, which will help you burn more calories and may aid with weight loss.

Coffee is nutrient dense

Coffee is an extremely popular beverage, which means a lot of people are already enjoying one of the most important benefits of coffee. Coffee is packed full of nutrients, such as choline, vitamin B, potassium, niacin, and magnesium. It’s also full of antioxidants, and as long as you take it with a bit of milk, it shouldn’t hinder your calcium absorption. This can be especially helpful if you’re suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and need to improve your nutrient intake to help your body heal.

What is AFS?

Tiredness benefits from coffeeAdrenal fatigue is a serious disorder that can affect every circuit in your body and cause a variety of troubling, debilitating, and gradually worsening symptoms. The condition is cause by chronic stress, which eventually breaks down the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system, your body’s main defense against stress. Chronic stress can also damage your adrenal glands. During stressful times, the NEM system signals to your adrenal glands to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which is responsible for the so-called fight-or-flight response. Increased cortisol levels increase your alertness and prepare your body to react to the cause of the stress. However, the NEM stress response system is only meant to be a short-term solution and cannot cope with chronic stress. Therefore, when this system is active for long periods, your adrenal glands may become fatigued owing to the non-stop cortisol demands.

As your adrenals become fatigued, imbalances will begin to appear in the various circuits of your body. The NEM stress response system is made up of six circuits working together to help your body cope with stress, as well as performing other daily functions. Each circuit involves essential organs, therefore, if these circuits become unbalanced, not only does this cause problems with individual organs, it also sets off a cascade of imbalances throughout entire body. For most people, this results in an unusual combination of symptoms and a decline in overall health that will continue to spiral downward if the stress is not addressed.

The key to successfully recovering from AFS is to adopt diet and lifestyle changes that will reduce stress and support your body as it heals. It is also useful to establish habits that naturally improve the symptoms of AFS. So, if you’re suffering from AFS, you should be aware of both the benefits and risks from coffee and how they can affect the healing process and your health in general.

How Adrenal Fatigue Affects the Cardionomic Circuit

The cardionomic circuit—comprised of the adrenal glands, cardiovascular system (CVS), and autonomic nervous system (ANS)—is one of the first to be affected by AFS. In the early stages, your adrenals become dysregulated, which causes symptoms like fatigue, low blood sugar levels, and other metabolic dysfunctions. The benefits of coffee may be useful for addressing these symptoms. Coffee can increase your energy levels and help fight fatigue. Moreover, it can give you an artificial boost of energy when this circuit starts to break down.

However, it’s important that you don’t use coffee to cover up or ignore your symptoms. If you’re constantly feeling fatigued, it could be a sign that you need to seek the right kind of help. Using coffee to hide your symptoms will only lead to more serious problems further down the line. Artificially stimulating your cardionomic circuit to increase your energy levels can be more harmful in the long term. Your overstimulated adrenals will have to pump out more cortisol until they become exhausted, eventually worsening your fatigue.

The ANS is usually affected next, leading to imbalances in other neurotransmitters released by the adrenal glands as part of fight-or-flight response, including norepinephrine and epinephrine. This can lead to anxiety, insomnia, and a rapid heart rate. Furthermore, the negative effects will outweigh the benefits of coffee. Caffeine can act as an antidepressant and boost neurotransmitter levels, however, if you frequently experience anxiety as a symptom of AFS, it may also heighten these negative feelings. In addition, caffeine can increase your heart rate and cause insomnia, thus worsening these symptoms as well.

As the problems associated with AFS progress, they may start to affect your CVS resulting in heart palpitations, blood pressure instabilities, and increased heart rate. If your CVS becomes dysregulated, coffee can have negative effects. The increase in blood pressure and heart rate will only compound your symptoms and further threaten your health. So, if you are suffering from AFS and you notice that drinking coffee seems to be affecting your CVS, it’s worth cutting down or giving it up altogether until your cardiovascular symptoms improve.

When adopting any new strategies to improve your AFS, it’s important to pay attention to your own individual condition. Everyone is different and AFS often causes paradoxical reactions. Adding coffee to your diet may end up being detrimental to your health even though it may have helped someone else. This just means you need to pay attention to your body and how it reacts. The best approach is to seek help from someone who understands AFS and can guide you on your journey to recovery.

The Takeaway

As with most things, the key to enjoying your morning coffee without the negative consequences is moderation. This will allow you to enjoy all the health benefits of coffee without incurring a negative impact your energy levels or worsening the symptoms of other diseases or disorders you may be suffering from. In fact, in moderation, coffee may be able to help you combat symptoms during the early stages of AFS. However, if you’re currently in the late stages of AFS, you may not be able to handle the caffeine and stimulation so well. But as long as you’re careful and pay attention to your individual response to caffeine, it’s worth experimenting to determine whether your health and general vitality could be improved by adding coffee to your daily routine.

 
© Copyright 2015 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Most people love to drink coffee and it turns out there are a lot of health benefits of coffee too. As long as you don’t overdo it, drinking coffee can help fight disease, assist with weight loss, and improve your energy levels.


benefits of coffee